Déjà vu for a Trump-obsessed nation. One man will dominate our attention again

by | Apr 2, 2023 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Everybody loses. We are heading into hell. We are no longer the United States of America. We are the Divided States of Trump.

Ask yourself, when word came down on Thursday that Donald Trump would be indicted — the first president in American history to be charged with a crime — what was your first and strongest emotion?

Was it “Yes, finally, let’s get the creep!”

Was it, “No, damn it, they can’t do this!”

Or was it, as it was for me, “there goes the next 18 months.” No matter what the ultimate outcome of this single Manhattan district attorney taking on a 7-year-old case that was passed on by federal prosecutors, our country will now inevitably spiral into endless arguments, family divisions and partisan flame-throwing.

The media will spend immeasurable broadcast hours, radio waves, print paragraphs and digital space on this one case.

Talking heads will be everywhere doing everything all at once, spouting their opinions on this development or that development until they make themselves dizzy.

And while our banks teeter on crisis, our most dangerous international rivals collude, our schools are not safe from bullets, our economy can’t cool its inflation, and our culture wars within itself over racial and gender identities, we are now going to make who actually paid off a porn star to not blab about sex THE most important issue in the most powerful country in the world.

That’s what happens when this one, inexplicably combustible man is at the center of things.

The Divided States of Trump.

Comparing it to what?

In less than six hours after the indictment was announced, I witnessed the armies massing on each side. I watched guests on Fox News pull on MAGA hats and declare that this was a war for the soul of America. I watched guests on MSNBC counter that it was a war for democracy, and immediately warn of potential violence towards jurors — Jurors? They haven’t even booked him yet! — because that’s what Trump followers do.

I actually heard a guest on Tucker Carlson’s show say, “Democrats are launching nukes at us, we better decide we’re launching nukes back at them.”

So this is what a nuclear war looks like? People debating if Trump will be put in handcuffs? Or if he will have a mug shot taken? That’s a nuclear war?

Shouldn’t we be more worried about an actual nuclear war, like the kind Vladimir Putin has been threatening, or the kind China can now engage in, according to Navy Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, who recently warned that our biggest threat is “putting capability in the field faster than we are.”

Isn’t that what nuclear war is about? You wouldn’t know it in America. We have become addicted to Trump like a drug that clouds all reason. Both sides can’t stop talking about him. All media channels can’t resist leading with him.

Am I the only person who asks, “Since when was this country ever — ever? — about one man?”

No one man should have all that power

The precedents that this action sets are beyond frightening. Now that Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA, has actually filed suit, he has broken with a 230-year-old tradition. And there is no closing that box.

In such an explosively divided country, what is to stop the next city or state prosecutor from going after a president? Especially a Republican prosecutor who might look at it as fair play? The fact that Trump is running for the White House again, and Bragg is a member of the opposite party, also sets a dangerous template for tackling your political enemies. It is, as critics have pointed out, the tactics of volatile or totalitarian nations. Take out your rivals at the knees.

Again. What is this about? Jan. 6? No. Private deals with Russia or China? No. It’s about who actually paid hush money to a porn actress. That’s the hill we wanted a 230-year-old tradition to die on?

Or is it not really about this case? Is it just about the man? Is he so loathsome, so detestable, that it doesn’t matter to his enemies what takes him out, just as long as he is gone? And does he deserve such vitriol? Is he so dangerous that taking him down on anything is worth it to save the nation?

Say this about Donald John Trump. No single individual has ever been so divisive in the history of American politics. And after dividing us for a year of candidacy, four years of his presidency, and two years of scorched earth after his defeat, he is back again, center stage, to divide us all once again.

The Wall Street Journal wrote, “The last thing a politically polarized America needs is a case in which partisans line up on either side like a political O.J. Simpson trial.”

But that is exactly what we will get, because that’s who Trump can be compared to. One man. Enraging us to craziness. Provoking us to violence. Distracting us from everything else that matters. One man.

More hell awaits. And we go marching straight toward it. The Divided States of Trump. It’s a terrible nickname. And we’ve earned it.

Contact Mitch Albom: malbom@freepress.com. Check out the latest updates with his charities, books and events at MitchAlbom.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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